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Our Valuable Team Members

Yellow Parachute’s success over the past years is due to the value each team member places on creating relationships. Not only are Yellow Parachute Coaches experts and specialists in their areas of teaching, but they also place highest value upon successful education and life-long learning for each of their students.

Cara Thorpe
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Cara Thorpe
Founder + CEO
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Cara Thorpe

Cara Thorpe

After graduating from Grinnel College with a major in German and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Cara attended the University of Minnesota, where she completed her Master’s degree in Elementary Education. She taught at Creek Valley Elementary School in Edina at the first, third, and fifth grades, for a total of seven years. Cara saw after-school tutoring as a way to create meaningful student growth and formed a small team of teachers to make a greater impact.

Cara continues to seek the most practical business applications for a company that values people over process and has grown to a team of over 50 individuals. She is a member of the global organization “Entrepreneur’s Organization” and has recently completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

Jenny McKeand
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Jenny McKeand
Student Connector & Learning Coach
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Jenny McKeand

Jenny McKeand

After graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Jenny followed her passion for working with children and young adults, as well as her lifelong love of literature, and received her secondary teaching license in Communication Arts and Literature and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas. Meanwhile, Jenny worked at a local high school in their Support Services program, working intensively with students who have learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and other learning obstacles.

Jenny loves being a Yellow Parachute Learning Coach and helping students to be organized, thoughtful, and successful learners. She finds nothing more rewarding than guiding students towards “a-ha” moments—moments when they finally understand a difficult problem or topic. Jenny works with students on organization/study skills (her true passion–she loves teaching students how to learn, not just what learn!), English, and ACT prep in the Southwest Metro.

Jenny is not only a certified Learning Coach, but also Yellow Parachute’s Student Connector. After many years of tutoring, she is thrilled to be working more closely with all Yellow Parachute families and helping their students obtain the personalized learning that she enjoys giving her own tutoring families.

Jenny is happiest when spending time with her husband and four children, cooking, traveling, reading, and cheering for her kids on various sport sidelines.

Carolyn Byrne
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Carolyn Byrne
Communications Strategist and Learning Coach
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Carolyn Byrne

Carolyn Byrne

After earning her BA in English from Cornell University, Carolyn spent four years as an analyst with the Department of Defense. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota with a concentration in fiction, and is at work on her first novel. During her time at the University of Minnesota, she taught undergraduate English literature, as well as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writing courses.

Carolyn is passionate about effective communication, stylish self-expression, and careful and thorough textual analysis. She offers coaching for college application essays, argumentative papers, and cover letters, as well as instruction in creative writing and close reading.

Alece Henderson
Alece Henderson
Learning Coach
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Alece Henderson

Alece Henderson

Alece has been an elementary teacher for 12 years. She loves teaching and feels very fortunate to have found a career that she is so passionate about. The connections with the students and their academic growth was remarkable and kept me motivated and eager to help more students. The confidence that students gain during individualized instruction is so rewarding.

She recently finished my Masters in Education – Curriculum & Instruction with a K-12 Reading Endorsement from Concordia University in St. Paul. Alece calls herself a lifelong learner as she continues to seek new teaching strategies and ideas.

Brenda Alberts Young
Brenda Alberts
Learning Coach
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Brenda Alberts Young

Brenda Alberts

In 2004, Brenda switched careers and launched a tutoring business after witnessing an alarming lack of English grammar skills and math sense among young interns. To that end, Brenda aggressively recruits tutors who share her vision of fostering academic distinction, as well as seeking individuals who strive to maintain a positive work-life balance.

An avid runner and cyclist, Brenda is active in her community: volunteering with her son’s swim team, chaperoning school field trips, directing science fairs, and teaching Sunday school. Brenda and her husband share a happy home with their two children, a hyperactive dog, and backyard views of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 beautiful lakes.

Darin Anderson
Darin Anderson
Learning Coach
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Darin Anderson

Darin Anderson

I have enjoyed math ever since competing in mathematics competitions in high school. I tutored math in college because I enjoyed seeing the satisfaction on fellow students’ faces when they would understand how to find solutions for themselves.

In college I received a BS degree in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. I have spent my professional career as a software engineer and manager for almost 25 years. Recently I left the software field to focus on a real estate investment business.

I am married with two sons and spend a lot of time at their various extra-curricular events. My youngest is just completing his black belt in Karate. He also competes in snow board competitions and plays in multiple guitar bands through his school. My oldest plays basketball and baseball and I have coached his teams in both sports for a number of years.

In the past few years I have been tutoring my niece, nephews, and sons in the topics of Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Physics. This has sparked a renewal of my love for mathematics and my desire to begin tutoring again to help students achieve their full potential in these subjects.

Cheryl Ehlert
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Cheryl Ehlert
Learning Coach
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Cheryl Ehlert

Cheryl Ehlert

Cheryl Ehlert graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in Mathematics (her favorite part was statistics!). Most recently, she has been busy homeschooling two of her three girls from 3rd through 10th grade. Cheryl has a passion for children and their families. Having worked both in children’s ministry and with a youth theater company has allowed her to pursue that passion. She also has a love for math! Combined together, she is excited to help students understand and love math. It really is fun! Her desire is to discover new and different ways to explain concepts and solve problems that pair best with each child’s learning style. Viewing each child uniquely, she revels in watching them feel confident in school and in life.

In her spare time, Cheryl loves spending time with her family, working out at the gym, doing logic problems and… of course…tutoring her own children!

Christin Boecker
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Christin Boecker
Learning Coach
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Christin Boecker

Christin Boecker

Christin received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics with a minor in Computer Science and Psychology from the University of Minnesota – Duluth campus. A native of Stillwater, MN, Christin believes that anyone can succeed in math with the right teacher. Christin tutored math throughout high school and college and coached her daughter in math throughout her school years as well as prepared her for the ACT in high school. Then she went through the ACT coaching herself to be able to tutor all areas of the ACT for other students.

In her free time, Christin enjoys volunteering in her church nursery, playing volleyball, Sudoku, Zumba and traveling and spending time with her husband and children.

Jacob Dueck
Jacob Dueck
Learning Coach
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Jacob Dueck

Jacob Dueck

Jacob is in his 13th year of teaching high school Italian and Latin. He has found that people learn best with a smile on their face. He has also found that increasingly students don’t know how to study or even focus. He believes the classroom can be an enlightening place but there is no replacement for 1 on 1 tutoring to make the big breakthroughs. Jacob enjoys tutoring everyone from junior high students to adults in language, writing, math and general studying strategies.

Kirsten Anderson
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Kirsten Anderson
Learning Coach
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Kirsten Anderson

Kirsten Anderson

Kirsten graduated from St. Olaf College in 1997 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. She has taught k -4 music and worked in the Special Education as a paraprofessional 1:1 with Early Childhood students with autism and DCD. Kirsten then went onto earn licensure in K-6 Elementary Education with an added specialty of Middle School Language Arts, in addition to a Master of Education from the University of Minnesota. In recent years, Kirsten has become certified in Orton-Gillingham instruction for reading through the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education and has been specializing in teaching students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities how to read.

Kirsten believes that her wide variety of experience in education makes her a very versatile educator and private tutor, and she forever will be dedicated to teaching! In her free time, Kirsten enjoys singing, yoga and Pilates, being outdoors, reading voraciously, and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Lynn Gerebi
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Lynn Gerebi
Learning Coach
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Lynn Gerebi

Lynn Gerebi

I have a BS degree in Business/Marketing. My background in business includes 6 years as a Sr. Sales Executive for Hewlett Packard, 3 years as an owner and Sales Manager for SLP Company, and 5 years as a Sales Representative at AmeriData. I have been working as a Private Tutor for 5 years with Yellow Parachute. My husband, Nick, and I have four children, and we live in Victoria.

My goal is to help students feel confident about the ACT. I work with students to understand the exam and its unique set of requirements – what I call its personality. Developing a strategy for success is essential and unique for each student. Learning, studying, and exam pressure can look and feel different for each High School Student. Over the past five years the average increase for the students I have tutored is 3.3 points. The range increase is 1-7 on the composite score.

Stacie Destin
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Stacie Destin
Learning Coach
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Stacie Destin

Stacie Destin

Stacie Destin received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Hampton University in Hampton, VA and her Juris Doctor from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS. A native of Kansas City, Stacie and her husband, Antoine, have lived in Austin, MN, Charlotte, NC, and currently Chaska, MN. After practicing law for over 10 years, Stacie decided to stay home full-time to raise her two boys. Although she always recognized the importance of education, while teaching her young children to read, Stacie developed a passion for literacy. Thus, for the past five years, Stacie has volunteered in elementary schools, largely providing supplemental reading instruction to individual students and small groups. Stacie is currently certified in the Orton Gillingham approach for teaching the structure and system of the English language for kindergarten through fifth grade.

In her free time, Stacie continues to volunteer at her boys’ elementary school in varying capacities, is an active member of her church, and enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and children.

Reid Thorpe
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Reid Thorpe
Learning Coach
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Reid Thorpe

Reid Thorpe

Reid Thorpe was born and raised in the rural Wisconsin town of Platteville and grew up spending countless hours hiking, canoeing, and enjoying the outdoors of his home state. He now lives and works in Chaska, Minnesota. Reid attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he received his B.F.A. in Studio Art. He went on to receive his Art Education degree from The University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Reid has taught a variety of subjects including Jewelry and Video Production in the classroom. His expertise lies in the two-dimensional realm of drawing and painting. Reid’s current work focuses on the land of the Upper Midwest; trees, architecture, and wide-open spaces, and the way each interacts with color in nature, inspire him.

Lisa Koeppen
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Lisa Koeppen
Learning Coach
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Lisa Koeppen

Lisa Koeppen

Lisa Koeppen is a former high school math teacher at private, public and international schools. She is a mom of 3 teenagers and has spent extensive time volunteering in their classrooms over the years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of St. Thomas, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Lisa is also a trained ACT Prep Learning Coach and enjoys working with students in building their confidence across all subjects. She especially values working one on one with students to capitalize on their unique learning styles. The best part of teaching is the eye-opening, confidence-building moments when comprehension clicks.

Lisa enjoys working with motivated, hard-working students. She prefers to work in the West Metro area including Chanhassen, Chaska, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Edina.

Karla Johnson
Karla Johnson
Learning Coach
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Karla Johnson

Karla Johnson

I am currently a high school special education teacher. Since December 2017, have been teaching at a St. Paul charter school. I relocated to the metro from Mankato in January, 2018. I am enjoying getting settled into my new living space, getting to know the area, and discovering and experiencing all the fun things to do. I have two grown daughters and one big, fluffy dog, Elmer.

I attended Concordia University, St. Paul and earned a BA in Organizational Management and Communications. I also attended Minnesota State University-Mankato, where I earned my special education teaching license. I taught special education classes at the area learning center (ALC) for two years in Mankato. And for five years I was an adult education teacher at the MN Correctional Facility in Faribault, MN.

I enjoy working with students in one-on-one settings. My passion is relationship building, getting to know my students, helping them to overcome learning obstacles, build confidence and feel successful while on their learning journey.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and my dog. I enjoy reading, traveling, yoga and spending time outdoors.

The most interesting thing about me is my teaching experience within a correctional facility. I can tell some good stories!

Susan Bloom
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Susan Bloom
Learning Coach
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Susan Bloom

Susan Bloom

Having survived several advanced degree programs and academic posts in a variety of institutional settings, Susan has found her happy place tutoring for Yellow Parachute. Her uncompromising passion is to meet each student where they are and advocate for them with every skill, tool, and trick that she has in her bag. Each time is new for Susan, and she loves the challenge of discovering the student’s “open sesame” to learning and confidence. Accordingly, it’s difficult for her to declare a true “student niche,” but Susan resonates with anxious testers, appreciates the hard-driving student, and strives to find the right combo of cheer and challenge for each person. Along the way, Susan tries to make the experience as painless as possible and hopefully more than a little bit of fun. At the end, they’ve learned a little, and she has learned a lot. “Best. Job. Ever.” says Susan Bloom, M.A., Ph.D. (Susan lives in the Minnetonka school district, tutors throughout the West Metro, and loves coffee, dogs, Pink Floyd, books, and sports.)

Tim Hereid
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Tim Hereid
Learning Coach
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Tim Hereid

Tim Hereid

Tim Hereid, MAT is a licensed teacher and provides outstanding tutoring in ACT, SAT, PSAT, college essay, writing and study skills to hundreds of students since 2009. He has taught in Maine, New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He’s a daily writer, and the author of The ACT Accelerated as well as numerous short stories. He is the proud father two wonderful and energetic boys, a kayaking enthusiast, and a passionate reader.

Subjects: ACT, SAT, AP, PSAT, College Essay, Language Arts, Math through Algebra II.

Beth Kucera
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Beth Kucera
Learning Coach
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Beth Kucera

Beth Kucera

I am currently working part time as a nanny for a Toddler. I also have three children with my husband, Tony. Grace is 21, Clay is 18, and Charlie is 16. We live on a golf course in Chaska. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and an Associate Master’s degree in Communication. My background is in both education and sales. I worked with a group to start a charter school in 1995. I have subsequently worked with children of all ages in a variety of settings. I am passionate about being a tutor as I recognize that there are many ways that children can learn and am excited to provide children with successful experiences with education. I also believe that I am a patient and calm educator who has the ability to make a difference in children’s lives. My past times include golf, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. One thing interesting about me is that I am an identical twin:)

Anna Myrand
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Anna Myrand
Learning Coach
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Anna Myrand

Anna Myrand

I am a middle and high school English Language Arts teacher at a school specializing in serving students with a variety of learning needs. My classes range from addressing core reading and writing skills to AP literature and composition. I earned my teaching degrees at the University of Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State University Mankato, and I hold licenses in 5-12 English Language Arts, Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and Developmental Disabilities. Although I love being a classroom teacher, I cherish the opportunity to work one-on-one with the students I tutor. I get especially excited about connecting with students with unique learning needs who are working on particularly complex aspects of language arts like interpreting literature and writing essays. It's a privilege to be part of students' growing journeys and to give deeply individualized support while building unique, meaningful relationships with each learner. I primarily work with students in the southwest metro and prefer to meet in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, or Edina. Beyond teaching, I'm a voracious reader and I am working on getting a young adult novel published. I also love to curl up on the couch and watch a movie with the two loves of my life, my husband Brent and rescue dog Robo.

Gabriela Grosshans
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Gabriela Grosshans
Learning Coach
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Gabriela Grosshans

Gabriela Grosshans

Gabriela is a Learning Coach. In addition to ACT math and science, she tutors the following subjects: math for grades 6-12 (including AP Calculus AB and BC, IB Math and the Math 1 and Math 2 SAT Subject Tests) as well as through all levels of math in higher education. She also tutors Spanish through AP/IB levels.

Gabriela loves to teach math. Her passion is teaching math in a way that makes sense. Gabriela teaches students to problem solve instead of just memorizing steps. She loves seeing students’ eyes brighten after understanding a new math concept.

In addition to helping students with all levels of math from arithmetic to calculus, Gabriela is a top-notch Spanish tutor. Gabriela continues to use her Spanish in her travels, especially in Guatemala and Spain, where she has pursued many different types of charity and educational work.

With respect to her ACT tutoring, Gabriela is passionate about helping students realize how quickly and effectively they can raise their scores. One inspiration behind Gabriela’s tutoring was a theoretical neuroscience course that she took while pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota.

In her free time, Gabriela enjoys skiing in the winter and hiking during the summer. Of course, above all, Gabriela enjoys learning new things!

Kelly Dreier
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Kelly Dreier
Learning Coach
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Kelly Dreier

Kelly Dreier

I am a high school science teacher. I live in Waconia with my husband and daughter Luna. I currently am teaching AP Environmental Science but have taught AP Biology, Biology, Environmental Science, Science Research, and Anatomy & Physiology. During the summer I am an outdoor recreation educator, where I teach kayaking, archery, logrolling, geocaching, standup paddle boarding, canoeing, and survival skills.

I graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead in 2007. After graduation I served in the Peace Corps where I taught science in Kenya. In 2016 I graduated from Hamline with a Master Degree in Natural Science and Environmental Education.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher is helping students find their full potential. I love working with students one on one or in a small group to help them better understand concepts. I love getting to know my students, their interests, struggles, and successes. I am drawn to be a learning coach because I want to help students through their struggles and I want them to experience success in science. I want students to continue to be inquisitive and curious about the world around them!

When I am not in the classroom you will find me outside. I love being in nature, hiking, biking, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. I also enjoy traveling and taking nature photographs. Something interesting about myself is I have lived on 4 continents.

Jesse Hitz Graff
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Jesse Hitz Graff
Learning Coach
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Jesse Hitz Graff

Jesse Hitz Graff

My name is Jesse Hitz Graff and I am currently a masters student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. I graduated from Winona Senior High in 2012 and then Luther College in 2016. I was a double mathematics and physics major in undergraduate and my desire to work in renewable energy was what compelled me to apply to EE graduate programs. I will be graduating in December and onto the “real world” from there. I have spent 3 summers working at various summer camps with a wide variety of children. Everything from life guarding for family camps, to being an overnight counselor for a youth camp of children on the autism spectrum, to being an outdoor youth adventure counselor in Big Sky Montana. I believe my passion for children comes from my six younger siblings. I have been blessed with an amazing, loving family and having so many younger siblings has only increased my desire to work with kids. The energy and creativity of children is revitalizing and I have loved every opportunity I have had to interact and especially to teach kids. Outside of my education/occupation I am an avid ultimate frisbee player. I captained a team for 2 years at Luther and still play in a fall league over near Lake Nokomis. I try to be as active as I can including lifting, swimming, running, and recently rowing. Lastly I am also a huge sports fan (twins, lynx, wolves), and take great pride in being a Minnesotan and a packers fan! Go Pack Go!

Christopher Cogswell
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Christopher Cogswell
Learning Coach
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Christopher Cogswell

Christopher Cogswell

I am a current chemical engineering consultant working in petrochemical process safety. In my spare time I host a podcast on the philosophy of science and pseudoscience, where we talk about all sorts of weird things and how science may tell us more about them. I have my PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University, with a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering and Philosophy from the University of New Hampshire. I love teaching people about science and math, why its so important to our daily lives, and what sort of cool things they can do once they know more about these subjects. In my spare time I create my podcast, play lots of video games, or read books.

Sarah Zins
Sarah Zins
Learning Coach
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Sarah Zins

Sarah Zins

A few days after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College, Sarah got her start teaching in a small village in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps. After returning to the US, she decided to leave her native Minnesota for San Francisco, where she put teaching on hold, started a fashion label, and worked in higher education. Sarah earned her M.A. in Teaching ESL in 2015, and since returning to Minnesota in 2016, Sarah has worked to prepare international students for U.S. universities, helped high schoolers get a leg up on their college exams, and has trained in Orton-Gillingham reading instruction. Sarah shares Yellow Parachute’s mission to create personalized learning solutions to help each student use their unique gifts and passions to reach their goals.

Janelle Pherson
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Janelle Pherson
Learning Coach
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Janelle Pherson

Janelle Pherson

Janelle has always loved working with children and knew from a young age that she wanted to become a teacher. She earned her bachelor's degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education from Penn State University and her master's degree from The College of William and Mary in Reading, Language, and Literacy. She has more than nine years of teaching experience working with all different elementary grade levels and as a reading specialist. After moving to Minnesota with her family in 2017, she decided to take time off from the classroom in order to stay home with her two young children. She has found that through parenting, she has gained new and valuable perspectives into the way children learn and develop. She decided to become a learning coach because she wanted to be able to continue making a positive impact on the lives of children and believes that the benefits of 1:1 instruction are invaluable. As a learning coach, Janelle enjoys working with students of all ages in the areas of math, language arts, executive functioning, and ACT test preparation. She primarily works with students living in the southwest metro area.

Andrea Sweeney
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Andrea Sweeney
Learning Coach
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Andrea Sweeney

Andrea Sweeney

You could say math is in my genes. My dad was a math teacher, and as a party trick would recite pi to 100 digits. During their engagement, my mom memorized pi to 50 digits…perhaps a test from my dad to make sure he found the right woman for him. They’ve been married for 60 years, so I guess they found the correct “formula!” I began tutoring while earning my bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Word got out that I was a math girl, so the nights before large math exams, kids in the dorm were coming in and out of my room all evening for help – and I thought it was fun! After working in the investment field and operating the financial portion of a family business, I’m still tutoring. I also manage financials for private individuals.

Watching concepts click with students, and seeing the satisfaction they feel when that happens brings me joy and continues to be “fun.” I’m extremely people-oriented, so discovering each student as an individual not only helps me cater my teaching to who they are, but also brings me enjoyment as I connect with a student as a unique creation. I love to do most anything active, especially if it’s outdoors. I enjoy most sports, swimming, biking, skiing, and I particularly love basketball, whether playing it myself or watching my son play that or other sports.

Lisa Boes
Lisa Boes
Learning Coach
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Lisa Boes

Lisa Boes

Lisa’s career in higher education began with orientation programs and residence life at Miami University, SUNY Cortland and the University of Maine. After earning her masters in College Student Personnel at Miami University and doctorate in Learning & Teaching at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, she coached new teachers at the Bok Center at Harvard as a post-doctoral fellow. She returned to undergraduate advising, and for seven years served as Allston Burr Resident Dean of Pforzheimer House at Harvard College. As a member of the faculty of Education at Harvard, Lisa offered a course on college student identities and development. She also served as Dean of Academic Services at Brandeis University for three years, leading a staff of 22 academic advisors and student service providers focused on academic achievement and success for a student body of over 3,800.

Throughout her career she has supported young adults in their development with a focus on service-learning, public service, and civic engagement.

Paige Endres
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Paige Endres
Learning Coach
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Paige Endres

Paige Endres

Hello! I work on the operations side of YP, primarily with payroll, family invoicing/billing and coach support. I live in Victoria with my husband, kids and two dogs. My kids like to remind me that I’m the only girl in our family because our children are boys and our two dogs are male. I’m definitely outnumbered!

Prior to working for Yellow Parachute, I worked for Ameriprise Financial in their corporate headquarters and held various operational/project management positions for the nearly ten years that I was employed there. Following my tenure at Ameriprise, I stayed home with my

twin boys until they started Kindergarten in the 2017/2018 school year. I’m originally from Eden Prairie, MN where I grew up and graduated high school in 1997. Following high school I attended college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where I received my Undergraduate Degree and Graduate Degree in Mass Communications and Marketing.

Outside of work, you can find me attending one of my boys many games, practices or activities- either at a hockey rink, baseball field or football field. Our family enjoys vacationing to warm places, swimming and spending time at my parent’s cabin up north with our dogs.

Ani Ammonds
Ani Ammonds
Learning Coach
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Ani Ammonds

Ani Ammonds

My name is Ani and I am a licensed Pre-primary- Grade 6 Educator. I have taught in the elementary setting for the past 25 years and recently went back to college to obtain my Pre-primary license. I am currently at a private preschool in Eagan called The Gardner School. I prepare meals for the children and float into various classrooms to help with the children. I live in Eagan with my husband and son, who is a freshman. My educational experience lies at the elementary level, and I have primarily taught K, 1, and 2. I have also taught in a Tier 3 setting, which is working with children in a small group or one on one to strengthen reading and comprehension skills. I have extensive Literacy training with District #196 and I have privately tutored children from my classes. I am passionate about teaching children to read because it is a tremendous gift to be able to read and comprehend! Books are a wonderful way to explore the world through an author’s eyes. I desire to be a learning coach for Yellow Parachute because I am able to help children achieve their academic goals while making learning fun! My hobbies include reading, golfing, and spending time with family and friends. I love to travel and try new restaurants. I am looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to help my students be successful and to love learning!

Anna VanVleet
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Anna VanVleet
Learning Coach
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Anna VanVleet

Anna VanVleet

I currently work at Trinity First School as the Educational Support Coordinator. My job has many hats, but my primary duties are recruiting and training volunteers, running our afterschool program, and working in our special education classroom. I am married to my husband, Zach.

I graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul with a degree in Elementary Education (K-6), and a Middle Level Endorsement (5-8) in Math. I also graduated with minors in Confessional Lutheranism and Urban Education. I taught one year of 1st grade and two years of 5th grade. During college, I worked at a summer school program and summer camp.

As a teacher, I am passionate about each student becoming all they are created to be. Education is a tool we are given to work towards that goal. In the same way that each student is uniquely gifted and talented, he or she also learns and retains information differently. It is my goal as an educator and a learning coach to work alongside students as they gather their tools, finding ways for learning to make sense. I am a lifelong learner and want students to find joy in that as well!

In my spare time, I like to read, play piano, bargain shop, volunteer at my church, and hang out with my friends. My husband and I also love hosting people at our house, including monthly game nights!

Layna Kitson
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Layna Kitson
Learning Coach
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Layna Kitson

Layna Kitson

Whether in small groups, one-on- one, or in a traditional classroom setting, I have had experience working with students of almost all ages-infant through 12th grade! I have taught in both public and private schools. I especially enjoy getting to know my students through small group and one-on- one interactions. Building relationships with my students is the highlight of my job as a learning coach! I hope to empower my students as they work hard.

I enjoy running. I have run two half marathons and the TC 10 mile. I enjoy time at the lake with my family and friends. One interesting fact is that I have been to the Minnesota State Fair every year of my life!

Gabe van Dyck
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Gabe van Dyck
Learning Coach
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Gabe van Dyck

Gabe van Dyck

After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, Gabe worked for Open Sky Wilderness, a wilderness therapy company for at-risk youth. At Open Sky, students typically lived in the wilderness for three months! There Gabe worked alongside other guides and therapist carrying out therapeutic interventions to help students build relationships, find their values, and initiate motivation, all while living in the outdoors.

Recently, Gabe has moved back to Minnesota to start his career goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. He is currently working part time as an EMT, while applying to medical schools.

Gabe’s curiosity has led him to become a lifelong learner. Through his education and experience studying for the MCAT, Gabe has found success at finding more efficient ways to learn. He finds joy in walking alongside students in the challenge of learning. Gabe has had success working with a variety of students: both high achieving and under performing students. He has experience working with students from second grade through the college level. He specializing in, although not limited to, middle school math/science, high school math/science, college science and ACT prep. Gabe tutors a majority of students online.

Gabe enjoy’s the outdoors: rock climbing, biking, running, canyoneering, rafting, etc. He has explored much of the Southwest US.

John Delebo
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John Delebo
Learning Coach
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John Delebo

John Delebo

Education – BS chemistry, minor biology, St John’s University MN; MBA investment finance, University of MN. I have tutored for many years with K-12 Learning Solutions/Yellow Parachute. My experience includes tutoring general biology/chemistry, honors and AP biology/chemistry, SAT II prep for biology/chemistry and college chemistry. I thoroughly enjoy working one-on- one or in small groups, assisting students in improving their skills in science.

Erika Bussmann
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Erika Bussmann
Learning Coach
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Erika Bussmann

Erika Bussmann

Hello! My name is Erika Bussmann, and I am currently a senior at Minnetonka High School. Over the past few years, I have been very involved with the AP, IB, and Science Research programs at MHS. I am both familiar with the immediate educational challenges facing current middle and high school students and experienced in problem-solving to overcome them. While my tutoring interests lie primarily in math and science, I am also passionate about developing lifelong communication and organizational skills. Every student learns in a unique way, and my ultimate goal is to help students find the strategies that work best for them and their family. It is my great joy to model and nurture an appreciation for learning and self-discovery as others have done for me. Aside from being a student and tutor, I enjoy reading and writing creative nonfiction and spending time outdoors with my pug Lucy.

Jenny Thomas
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Jenny Thomas
Learning Coach
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Jenny Thomas

Jenny Thomas

Life is full of changes, challenges, and adventures. Our family recently encountered all three when we left Texas after living there 15 years and moved to Minnesota. The move allowed me to focus on our two daughters Katie and Sara and help them adapt to winter weather. Minnesota winters are no joke! Now that we have bought all the winter gear you can imagine I spend my time trying to keep one step ahead of two amazing teenagers, train and work with our sweet dogs, and advocate for students with dyslexia.

My bachelors degree is in Elementary Education from Kansas State University. I have had the opportunity to teach grades 1st through 8th (with the exception of 5th) in 4 different states; Kansas, Georgia, California, and Texas. My master’s degree is from California State University, East Bay in Reading. I am a certified Reading Specialist.

Reading instruction has always been my passion, but when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2010 I realized that I needed additional information and training. This lead me to The Shelton School in Dallas Texas where I trained for 2 years to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist. I am certified as a dyslexia specialist through The International Dyslexia Association as well at the Academic Language Therapy Association. My goal is to help students achieve all they can, encourage them to embrace their strengths, support parents as they learn how to help their child, and educate the local communities on dyslexia.

When I am not coordinating all the schedules of my wonderful and crazy crew I can usually be found doing one of four key things; hanging out on my deck enjoying beautiful Minnesota skies, working out or walking the wonderful paths in the area, snuggling our older dog Chevy, and training our new puppy Bentley to be a therapy dog. I am a mom, wife, teacher, crazy dog lover, advocate for kids who loves to laugh as much as possible, and encourage those around me to work hard, have some fun, and love fiercely.

Diane Lavin
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Diane Lavin
Learning Coach
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Diane Lavin

Diane Lavin

Life is full of changes, challenges, and adventures. Our family recently encountered all three when we left Texas after living there 15 years and moved to Minnesota. The move allowed me to focus on our two daughters Katie and Sara and help them adapt to winter weather. Minnesota winters are no joke! Now that we have bought all the winter gear you can imagine I spend my time trying to keep one step ahead of two amazing teenagers, train and work with our sweet dogs, and advocate for students with dyslexia.

My bachelors degree is in Elementary Education from Kansas State University. I have had the opportunity to teach grades 1st through 8th (with the exception of 5th) in 4 different states; Kansas, Georgia, California, and Texas. My master’s degree is from California State University, East Bay in Reading. I am a certified Reading Specialist.

Reading instruction has always been my passion, but when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2010 I realized that I needed additional information and training. This lead me to The Shelton School in Dallas Texas where I trained for 2 years to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist. I am certified as a dyslexia specialist through The International Dyslexia Association as well at the Academic Language Therapy Association. My goal is to help students achieve all they can, encourage them to embrace their strengths, support parents as they learn how to help their child, and educate the local communities on dyslexia.

When I am not coordinating all the schedules of my wonderful and crazy crew I can usually be found doing one of four key things; hanging out on my deck enjoying beautiful Minnesota skies, working out or walking the wonderful paths in the area, snuggling our older dog Chevy, and training our new puppy Bentley to be a therapy dog. I am a mom, wife, teacher, crazy dog lover, advocate for kids who loves to laugh as much as possible, and encourage those around me to work hard, have some fun, and love fiercely.

Lauren Moe
Lauren Moe Young
Lauren Moe
Learning Coach
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Lauren Moe

Lauren Moe

Lauren has been tutoring for over 5 years. She started tutoring when she was in high school when she participated in a peer tutoring program. While in college, Lauren was a volunteer tutor and was employed by a tutoring agency. She has experience working with students in preschool through college level courses. With her background in science, she especially loves helping students with math and science. She has also spent a significant amount of time working with students to increase their ACT or SAT scores. Education and learning have always been passions of Lauren’s, and she loves to be a part of helping students realize their full academic potential and find a love for learning.

Lauren will begin dental school in the summer of 2019. During the 2018-2019 school year, she is working as a substitute teacher at various local schools. She started her undergraduate education at Duke University in Durham, NC and then transferred to Drake University in Des Moines, IA. In December 2017, she graduated with a BS in Biology from Drake University. In Lauren’s free time, she enjoys reading, baking, spending time with family and friends, working out, cheering on the Duke Blue Devils during basketball season, and traveling.

Lauren Weeks
Lauren Weeks Young
Lauren Weeks
Learning Coach
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Lauren Weeks

Lauren Weeks

Lauren was born in Wisconsin, where she lived her entire life until moving to Minneapolis in August, 2018. Currently, she works at Bais Yaakov as a Math Instructor and coach swimming for Wayzata High School. She will be starting her PhD in January and plans to study Curriculum and Instruction. In college, Lauren pursued a Mathematics Degree and 6-12 teaching license. After beginning her career as a teacher in 2013, she pursued her Master’s Degree in Data Analytics while working full time. She now has six years of professional teaching experience, ten years of tutoring experience, and has pursued consulting projects with data.

Lauren’s passion for tutoring and coaching comes from her craving for connections. She loves connecting with people, hearing about their goals, and assisting them in reaching their goals. She was an athlete throughout my childhood and in college, both in swimming and track. Goal-setting is a crucial component of success. Without goals, progress is not realistic because there is no direction. Her main goal as a Learning Coach is to assist students in finding passion in learning and in making progress. In Lauren’s free time, she enjoys reading motivational books, running with my dogs, and coaching swimming. She has a pug beagle and a lab hound that keep her very busy. They do everything together, including grading papers, working out, napping, and cuddling.

Katie Bartholomew
Katie Bartholomew Young
Katie Bartholomew
Learning Coach
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Katie Bartholomew

Katie Bartholomew

Katie is an experienced teacher with 13 years of teaching experience. She currently teaches 6th grade science in Woodbury, MN. She also has experience teaching 7th and 9th grade science as well as elementary reading. Katie enjoys spending time with family and helping her own kids with their homework. She loves attending their activities and sporting events. She also enjoys going on walks with her dog and cooking!

Katie attended the University of Minnesota and has her Master’s Degree from there as well. She is originally from Wisconsin and loved the area so much she stayed here! She enjoys learning new things and loves taking classes. She enjoys helping students find their confidence and loves helping kids become curious learners. She originally got into teaching because she likes working with children, and she especially likes working with them in a one on one capacity.

Kelsey Miller
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Kelsey Miller
Learning Coach
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Kelsey Miller

Kelsey Miller

I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with my K-5 Teaching License as well as a K-12 Special Education: Academic Behavior Strategist License. I am currently a Center-Based Special Education teacher in Eagan, MN for kids ages K-5th grade. Prior to getting my job in Eagan, I student taught in Galway, Ireland which was an amazing experience where I was able to learn a lot about how different countries approach academics. I was recently trained in Leveled Literacy Intervention and with this, I enjoy showing students the joy they can find in reading! I like to also look for fun and interesting ways to get kids interested in a subject. When I teach math, I often find that kids respond best when the math concepts are introduced in a version of a game. I love working with students, finding their strengths, and building relationships that will foster success. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy being around my friends and family, hiking, and doing yoga. Traveling is also an important part of my life as I think seeing the world and meeting new people is so important. I also love to read when I have the time, especially historical books. I live in Edina with my husband and golden retriever, Barley!

Austin LeTexier
Austin LeTexier
Learning Coach
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Austin LeTexier

Austin LeTexier

Austin has always enjoyed math and science. It wasn't until the tail-end of his collegiate freshman year that he began to think heavily about the teaching profession. He has been coaching youth football camps since 2007, but it wasn't until 2012 that his attention began to turn towards coaching in the classroom.

Austin received his B.A.Sc from the University of Minnesota Duluth in Secondary Math Education, where he is licensed 5th grade through 12th grade, in 2015. Fun Fact: He also played football for UMD from 2011 - 2013.

Upon graduation Austin immediately began his teaching career at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, where he is still currently teaching. He is also coaching football (Offensive Line) at Washburn and has coached for them for three seasons.

Austin has been tutoring since 2012 unofficially for family and friends in other states (WA, ND, SD, GA, and NY) and is extremely excited to be a coach at Yellow Parachute.

He is beginning his Masters in Education, emphasizing differentiation, from the University of Concordia in Saint Paul.

"Keep working hard until you no longer need to introduce yourself" - unknown

More Yellow Parachute Staff Members

  • Michelle Berkeley
  • Betsy Bohlig
  • Andrew Campbell
  • Sharon Coppi
  • Rae Lyons
  • Kevin Smith
  • Andrea Friend
  • Elizabeth Gans
  • LaRayne Hollander
  • Andrea Brown- YP Staff, Bookkeeping
  • Ashley Gao

Join Our Team!

Yellow Parachute is growing and looking to add talented, passionate individuals to our team of experts. If your goal is to make a difference and help people reach their full potential, we would love to hear from you!

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